In this last post on Hidden London, I’d like to talk about street art. Street art is one of those things that a lot of people may still raise their eyebrows at, but has definitely gained momentum and become more popular and socially accepted in recent years. What started out as graffiti (the difference being that graffiti is made up of written words as opposed to images) has grown to include street art and guerilla sculptures all around the world.
London has a huge following of street art fans and is now one of the most pro-graffiti/street art cities in the world. I was never a huge fan myself, but I can certainly appreciate the talent that these artists have. Here are 3 places we visited while we were in London for some fantastic street art!
1. Brick Lane
In the East End of London lies Brick Lane, home to a big Bangladeshi community. It earned its name from being the area that manufactured brick and tile in the 15th century. It is also famous for being home to a wide variety of street art, featuring artists like Banksy and Stik. These displays of street art can be found all along the various side streets of Brick Lane.
As you would expect with street art, the art is always changing, so the photos I’ve taken of what I saw and experienced might not be there if you visit one day.
Address: Brick Lane, London E1 6QL
Transport: Via Aldgate East Underground Station (District and Hammersmith & City lines) or Shoreditch High Street Train Station (Overground)
2. Banksy’s “Designated Graffiti Area”
If you’re not familiar with Banksy, he is an anonymous street artist with a unique stenciling technique whose art, usually of a political and social nature, has become extremely popular over the years. Fueled by the fact that no one actually knows who he is, Banksy has had the ability to turn street art into somewhat mainstream culture. When a new piece comes up that is confirmed to be a Banksy, flocks of people will turn up to see it, the latest of which was “Season’s Greetings” in Port Talbot, Wales.
Banksy’s “Designated Graffiti Area” is the only place in London to feature two of Banksy’s pieces and is located at the nightclub Cargo.
Just outside Cargo is art by Thierry Noir.
Inside the courtyard of Cargo are the two Banksy pieces, the first being “Guard Dog”…
… and the second being “His Master’s Voice”. He makes use of HMV’s logo – HMV is actually short for “His Master’s Voice” in case it didn’t click yet or you didn’t realise! – which features a dog listening to a cylinder phonograph. Banksy makes it his own by having the dog hold up a bazooka aimed into the phonograph.
As you may have noticed, both Banksy pieces are covered in plexiglass. As I mentioned earlier, it’s ironic how graffiti and street art are usually perceived as kind of a “taboo” and something that should be removed right away, but in the case of Banksy, his work is treasured and to be preserved.
Address: 83 Rivington Street, London EC2A 3AY
Transport: Via Shoreditch High Street Train Station (Overground)
3. Leake Street Tunnel
Also known as Banksy Tunnel, Leake Street Tunnel is London’s largest legal street art area. It is a tunnel that stretches under Waterloo Underground Station.
Banksy initially organised the Cans Festival in May 2008 and again in August 2008. Essentially, he invited graffiti artists to turn Leake Street Tunnel into an art exhibition. Since then, the tunnel has had lights professionally installed for passersby to easily see the works of art.
The tunnel is currently going through a phase of regeneration, with some new restaurants already open, as well as bars and event spaces opening soon.
Address: Leake Street, London SE1 7NN
Transport: Via Waterloo Underground Station (Bakerloo, Jubilee, Northern, and Waterloo & City lines) or Westminster Station (Circle, District, and Jubilee lines)
Is street art something that you fancy? If not, does it seem any more interesting now that you’ve read this post? Let me know in the comments!